OC DA Clears Santa Ana Police for Shooting Unarmed Cholo in the Foot

Categories: Where you from?

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Flickr user sneakerphotography

After more than four years, the Orange County District Attorney's (OCDA) office finally got around to clearing a SanTana cop in a May 18, 2010 shooting. The agency found no wrong doing when officer David Jensen shot 21-year-old Yoni Velasquez in the foot after a--you know it!--foot pursuit, leaving a bullet hole in his white Nike kicks.


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UFO Over Tustin and "Mothership" and Two Angels in Orange County Skies the Same Night?

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Casablanca Records
We presume this was not the massive mothership over Orange County. Sadly.

Someone who saw a UFO over Tustin last week wants you to know that it was not the "massive mothership UFO and two angels sighted over Orange County" the same night.

Or was it?

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Prosecutors Drop Felony Charges In Wake Of OC Weekly Report

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Govey
Hours after OC Weekly revealed ethical problems concerning Orange County district attorney's office (OCDA) use of questionable informants in a solicitation-of-murder case against former gangster Joseph Govey, prosecutors this morning dropped all charges.

On Tuesday, Beth Costello, Govey's prosecutor, told the Weekly she'd dismissed three of the most serious charges against Govey on Sept. 22 because she wanted to hide records from Renee Garcia, the defendant's defense lawyer, in hopes of protecting the safety of the informants.

The assertion was odd for several reasons including that the informant identities have been well known: criminals Alexander Frosio, Carl Johnson Jr., Arthur Palacios and, Huntington Beach Police Department's prize, veteran snitch, Marcel Irazarry.

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Tony Rackauckas' Truth or Consequences: DA Continues Dropping Cases To Avoid Disclosures

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Bob Aul/OC Weekly

Up until Sept. 22, Santa Ana defense attorney Renee Garcia had waited more than 400 days for the Orange County district attorney's office (OCDA) to fully obey pretrial ethical rules about sharing evidence in an attempted murder case. Garcia wanted prosecutor Beth Costello to turn over records of informants who'd aided the government in what turned out to be a problematic solicitation-of-murder case against Garcia's client, Joseph Govey. The massive consumption of time included six months of Costello repeatedly assuring Garcia she would surrender the evidence but reneging each time. Realizing she was being stonewalled, the lawyer wrote three separate motions to Superior Court Judge Thomas M. Goethals in hopes of compelling production of the records.

But with Goethals favoring Garcia's position, Costello declared at a May 16 hearing she'd been mistaken by asserting there were no files whatsoever to share--especially on Alexander Frosio. He's one of the prosecution's key snitches and a serial residential burglar whom other inmates say worked at the request of Orange County Sheriff's Department (OCSD) deputies to plant "happy cards"--mail laced with heroin--in targeted inmates' cells. Exactly three weeks later, Garcia showed the prosecutor gotcha evidence. In a different ongoing case in the same courthouse, Larry Yellin--one of Costello's colleagues--admitted the agency possessed a 3-inch-thick stack of Frosio-related informant records.


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Prosecutors Suspiciously Drop Charges In Another Case Based On Informant Work

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Prosecutors pursued tainted murder solicitation case against Govey (pictured)
For two years, prosecutors, police and sheriff's deputies stalled turning over potential exculpatory evidence to defense lawyers representing Joseph Govey--a 49-year-old Orange County man wanted dead by white supremacist gangsters and facing seven felony charges that, if convicted on all counts, could have meant spending the rest of his life in one of California's notorious prisons.

But Senior Deputy District Attorney Beth Costello walked into Judge Thomas M. Goethals' Santa Ana courtroom on Sept. 22 and startled Govey, a convicted felon, as well as his attorney, Renee Garcia.

Costello dismissed three of the most serious charges: solicitation of murder, attempted murder and street terrorism.

The veteran prosecutor's eyebrow-raising move wasn't motivated by the sudden onset of a bleeding heart sensibility. Most assuredly, the decision came reluctantly and with calculation. The Orange County district attorney's office (OCDA) had, after all, consumed grand jury time to win a 2012 indictment against Govey.

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Police and Prosecutor-Cheating Kills Murder Case, Freeing Man Held In Jail For Years

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Bob Aul
Orange County prosecutors claimed they were unclear about their ethical obligations
To prevent future public embarrassment about widespread corruption in it's jailhouse informant program, the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA) handed a sweetheart deal to an accused Santa Ana killer whose lawyers were on the verge of demanding a probe.

Isaac John Palacios walked out of the Orange County Jail a free man just before midnight on Sept. 23 after being in pre-trial custody since 2011 for the 2006 killing of Randy Adame near Mater Dei High School and a second, 2005 murder of Alberto Gutierrez, also in Santa Ana.

If OCDA officials--including prosecutor Erik Petersen--had had their way, Palacios might have been on his way to effectively serving a life sentence for the killings, but Assistant Public Defender Scott Sanders discovered the case reeked of law enforcement corruption involving prosecutors, Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD) cops as well as deputies inside the Orange County Sheriff's Department (OCSD).

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Reda Hassan Safieddine Guilty of Shotgun Murder of 17-Year-Old Tagging Crew Rival

Courtesy of FVPD
Reda Hassan Safieddine in 2012
A jury today found a 20-year-old Fountain Valley man guilty of murdering an unarmed teen rival from a "tagging crew" with a shotgun blast to the neck in the parking lot of a convenience store.

Jurors in Santa Ana deliberated about four hours before convicting Reda Hassan Safieddine, who as a DJ went by "Big Reda," of second-degree murder and brandishing a firearm and found true a sentencing enhancement for the personal discharge of a gun.

He faces up to 40 years to life in prison at his scheduled sentencing Nov. 7.

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Meet OC & LA Law Enforcement's Favorite Rats!

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Illustration by Luke McGarry

Anthony Calabrese suffered no vision problems and wasn't a moron in September 2012, but the 23-year-old college student couldn't have known he had just seen a mirage inside the Orange County Jail (OCJ). Only a madman would think law enforcement officers had staged an elaborate, multi-hour, multi-pronged con game aimed at prompting him--one of 6,000 local detainees--to inadvertently forfeit his constitutional right to not self-incriminate. But Anaheim police detectives and sheriff's deputies anxious to solve a March 2007, drive-by murder indeed targeted Calabrese, whom they suspected of Barrio Small Town gang membership, for trickery.

The notorious Mexican Mafia ruthlessly reigns over all major Latino gangs in Southern California and, according to law enforcement officials, maintains a no-drive-by shootings policy; any affiliate who violates it without their permission suffers severe repercussions. Because deputies believed Calabrese might have violated the no-drive-by policy when he allegedly killed rival Citron Street gangster Armando Hernandez, and because a recovered "green light list"--a gang document detailing the identities of individuals to be attacked on sight--included Calabrese's name, they placed him in protective custody. Calabrese's housing location away from the general inmate population also--not accidentally--gave officers an easier forum to employ their secret weapon: a pair of ratas.

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Gustavo's Latest KCRW "Orange County Line": On the Gang Injunction Battle in Santa Ana's Townsend Street!

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CopWatch Santa Ana
SanTana's finest

The summer has been especially hot in the Townsend Street neighborhood in SanTana, where the Orange County District Attorney's office is trying to fully implement a gang injunction. Nevermind that residents in the area don't want it. Nevermind that DA Tony Rackauckas usually overreaches on such efforts, leading to court decisions against him. There's cholos in dem dere apartments, so send in the cavalry!

The fight between activists and the DA/police is the subject of my KCRW-FM 89.9's "Orange County Line" this week.


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Weekender Updater: Gangs, Alleged Cruise Ship Killer, Discriminating Cops and TED Talkers

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Illustration by Cameron K. Lewis/OC Weekly
Lonnie Kocontes failed to get a grand jury indictment against him for murder dismissed.

Read on, Garth, for links to previous Navel Gazing posts and updates to those stories.

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